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Slavery project boosted by $15.75m from US State Department


The Africa Programming and Research Initiative to End Slavery (APRIES) programme – of which University of Liverpool is a partner – secured an additional $15.75 million from the US Department of State.

Professor Alex Balch, from the University’s Department of Politics, is an investigator on the University of Georgia (UGA) led project, he said: “I am very excited to be part of this growing team with partners in North America, Europe and Africa.

“We are looking forward to developing new cutting-edge research that contributes to knowledge about the effectiveness of anti-trafficking policies in low and middle-income countries.”

The new award, funded by the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP Office), will scale APRIES current anti-human trafficking work in Sierra Leone and Guinea, as well as expand efforts to Senegal.

As part of the funded project, APRIES will also launch the Prevalence Reduction Innovation Forum. The forum – the first of its kind – will enlist scholars from universities around the world to test and develop the best ways to estimate the prevalence of human trafficking.

The award contributes to APRIES’ growing budget, following a $4 million award in 2018 from the TIP Office under the Program to End Modern Slavery.

David Okech, Associate Professor of Social Work at UGA, Director and Principal Investigator of APRIES said: “In addition to strengthening current anti-trafficking efforts, the goal of APRIES is to build a global community of researchers and learners in the science of estimating human trafficking prevalence.”

A severe lack of data hampers attempts to curtail human trafficking worldwide.

In 2018, APRIES and ResilientAfrica Network, a USAID-funded partnership of African universities based at Makerere University, Uganda, began exploring a systematic way to establish baseline data on child trafficking in selected hotspots in Sierra Leone and Guinea. The project utilizes an innovative, collective impact approach that encourages participation from a wide variety of stakeholders. The data collected will inform government policy and provide evidence for better programs for trafficking survivors.

The Prevalence Reduction Innovation Forum will kick off with a conference in spring 2020, at which research teams will debate different methodologies to conduct robust human trafficking prevalence studies. Following the conference, the teams will field-test various research methods to estimate the prevalence of trafficking in selected lower- and middle-income countries.

To ensure the data is robust, the research teams will use two to three different data collection methods. The teams will assess how each method performs in specific situations and document their process of conducting research. The teams will present their findings at a final conference in Spring 2022.

For more information about APRIES, visit    

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